The biggest surprise in the results of a Google search for Scott James Meyer is that he was recently named the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas. Actually, thatís not true Ė it was James Scott Meyer who was named bishop. The actual biggest surprise amid the results is how many of the links lead to video clips of the Birmingham-based comedian Scott James Meyer, whose stand-up routines have had thousands of views on YouTube.
Moving to L.A. to pursue a career in comedy certainly doesnít guarantee that a young man is going to make the big time, but Meyer has definitely done his local comedy cohorts proud ó Warner Bros. offered him a record deal earlier this year and his debut comedy album is scheduled for release in the fall.
Meyer will perform at WorkPlay at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13, with special guest The Casio Kid opening the show. He recently consented to answering 20 questions, more or less, about comedy, childhood fears and how Subway ripped him off (the sandwich shop chain eventually made right, but stillÖ)
1) If someone asks you what you do for a living, do you actually say that you're a stand-up comedian? If not, what do you say?
I do, although since Iíve recently finished law school I guess I could say that Iím an attorney (almost), but people generally hate attorneys and love comedians... Iím probably better off saying comedian, even if that means answering a hundred follow up questions about how I get my material, or that they have something funny I should say on stage, or how they were the funniest guy in their fraternity... Ugh, maybe Iíll start going with attorney.
2) How did you decide to go into comedy? Was there a significant when moment you made somebody laugh that started it all?
Being home-schooled my whole life, I mastered the fine art of self-amusement. That, and I come from a very vibrant, hilarious, creative family. I used to do improv comedy as part of a group, and I just woke up one day and said ďMan, Iím sick of splitting the paychecks with these goofballs. Letís try stand-up.Ē
3) Who are the individuals or comedy teams you count among your influences?
Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Phil Hendrie, Jon Swartzwelder, Charlie Chaplin, P.G. Wodehouse, Steve Martin, Jackie Gleeson, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers and thatís about it.
4) What movies and/or television programs have influenced your comedy?
Iím a huge Simpsons fan... Golden Girls... Arrested Development... As far as movies go, anything with the people named in question #3 is my cup of tea. I also love BBC stuff like Black Adder and Wooster and Jeeves.
5) What is your writing process like? Do you write individual jokes or entire routines?
I operate like a gangster going on a drive-by shooting, I really donít spend a lot of time kicking the dead horse or squeezing the last bit of interest from a subject. I take what I think is the funniest elements of a topic, hit it and move on. So, individual jokes rather than entire routines. Iíll see or hear something that gets my attention then Iíll sit down and write everything that I can about it. Then Iíll cut it down to a about a paragraph, and tone it up into a tight working piece of material.
6) What do you think of the local comedy scene? What has your experience beyond Birmingham been like?
I love the local Birmingham comedy scene, though Iím not very active in it anymore. I certainly owe it much of my success. I was given a warm welcome and stage time from day one with a lot of helpful supportive comics and individuals. Russell Ehrett, Chris Davis, JíMel Davidson ó I could not have done without those very smart, funny and supportive dudes and the environment that they helped to create in Birmingham about five years ago. Letís not forget the Birmingham Weekly who has been plugging my gigs since day one! There is still a good scene going on in Birmingham to some extent. There are like four or five open mics a month that a new comic can sink his teeth into.
Beyond Birmingham, itís been great as well. Itís weird ó no one would have thought that Birmingham can be this training ground and launching point for a comedy career. They say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. Balderdash. If you can fill a room in Alabama during football season, then you can definitely make it anywhere.
7) What's the worst experience you've ever had on stage? The best?
The worst? There was a gig in a rotting chicken wing restaurant that I never should have accepted...
The best? My first gig in L.A.
I was unsure of some of my material seeing how much of it has to do with being from Miami and living in the Dirty South... but they really loved it and asked me to come back the next week. Felt good.
8) What period of SNL is your favorite?
Mid to late í70ís, with Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Akryoyd and Chevy Chase... no beating that.
9) You recently got a record deal from Warner Bros. What is the recording process like for a comedian?
Itís all about recording live shows and hoping that what comes across is a good example of the magic that was going on that night on stage. Musicians using a studio have it much easier.
10) What was the last book you read?
I read the Bible every day. I also love Batman comic books, but one of the last books I read was the Revolution Manifesto by Ron Paul. It was freaking epic. I also love studying history and economics. I highly recommend Man, Economy and the State by Murray Rothbard or Human Action by Ludwig Van Mises.
11) Who plays you in the bio-pic of your life?
One of those talking animals from Homeward Bound.
Or maybe Vince Vaughn, Tim Robbins or Joshua Jackson, since people often say that I remind them of them, though I donít necessarily see it.
12) What character from fiction (prose or film) do you most closely resemble?
When I was younger I used to want to be Luke Skywalker, and I admit Iíve never fully outgrown it.
13) How much training in improvisation have you had? How important is improvisation in your line of work?
Improv was how I got started in this business. I canít stress enough how helpful that knowing improv has been in my life. Iíd recommend it to anyone. If you can think quickly and act without fear or hesitation, if you can persuade others of the top of your head, you can conquer the world.
14) Any childhood fears that are still with you?
That Iíd end up doing a job that Iíd hate for the rest of my life, or that Iíd waste my gifts doing a job that Iíd be easily replaceable.
15) Is anybody any your family funny? Who is the funniest person you know, family member or otherwise?
My mom and dad are both hilarious people. And more than that, they know how to use humor effectively, to make people feel at home, to brighten peoplesí days... They make me laugh all the time, always have.
16) What is your biggest pet peeve?
Iím an uber-organized, OCD German-American... so anything done sloppily makes me have to slowly count to 10.
17) Your favorite conspiracy theory?
Pick one. They are usually true. At least I hope they are.
18) You recently got a settlement from Subway, after suing the company for using some of your material in TV commercials without your permission. How in the world did that happen?
People kept telling me that the commercial had ripped off material from my act, but I donít watch much TV, so I had not seen it, and didnít really care, to be honest. Then, I actually saw the commercial. Wow. It was a word-for-word rip-off, so I was ticked. I tired to work it out with them on my own, but they were not very helpful. So, I got my attorney in L.A. on it and over a year later we were all wrapped up and good to go. We didnít have to sue them. they paid up before that point.
While I was on my Subway boycott that year they came out with two types of new bread and started making pizza. I was like ďHow long have I been away?Ē It was a Rip-Van-Winkle moment. The new bread is really good by the way ó try the parmesan oregano.
19) What does the immediate future hold for Scott James Meyer?
Recording and promoting the new album, pitching a sit com treatment, being on the road full-time and yet another huge announcement that I canít say just yet...
20) What is funny?
Me, at the WorkPlay on Thursday, 8 p.m. I'll meet you there.
Scott James Meyer will perform at WorkPlay at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13, with special guest The Casio Kid opening the show. Tickets cost $10 and are available in advance at (205) 380-4082 or www.workplay.com